Movie Review for Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)

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Review #670 of 365
Movie Review of Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) [PG] 98 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $10.25
Where Viewed: United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15, Denver, CO
When Seen: 15 August 2008 @ 12:01 am
DVD Release Date: 11 November 2008 (click date to purchase or pre-order)
After the Credits: nothing

Soundtrack: order the CD below

Directed by: Dave Filoni ("Avatar: The Last Airbender" )
Screenplay by: Henry Gilroy (Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows) • Steven Melching ("The Batman") • Scott Murphy ("Flash Gordon") based on story and characters by George Lucas

Featured Voice Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Matt Lanter (Wargames: The Dead Code) • Ashley Eckstein (Sydney White) • James Arnold Taylor ("The Spectacular Spider-Man") • Dee Bradley Baker ("Ben 10: Alien Force") • Tom Kane ("Kim Possible") • Nika Futterman ("My Gym Partner's a Monkey") • Ian Abercrombie (Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties) • Corey Burton ("Transformers: Animated" ) • Catherine Taber (Just Like Heaven ) • Kevin Michael Richardson ("The Spectacular Spider-Man") • David Acord (Zoom) • Samuel L. Jackson (Jumper) • Anthony Daniels (Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith ) • Christopher Lee (The Golden Compass)

review litewebsitetrailerpremiere photosspoiler2cOrNot2c?

Well, as nearly everyone alive knows, it all began a long time ago (some 30 years-ish) in a galaxy far, far away (also known as California) when the young George Lucas conceived of what is now apparently called his Star Wars universe. Six major motion pictures, millions of action figures, thousands of product tie-ins, hundreds of novels, dozens of video games, and countless cartoon specials later, it apparently became necessary to someone in the Star Wars universe to create a feature-length, CGI-animated film that would explain in 90 minutes the events that happened between episodes II and III of the Star Wars Hexilogy—apologies, but what else does one call a six part story? Now, there are a lot of people who grew up on the Star Wars trilogy—the real one, the one that included: Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. Then, Mr. Lucas went back, supposedly always according to plan, and made the first three episodes of this story which were unfortunately called: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. And, rather than making an animated version of the long-promised parts 7, 8, and 9 of the Star Wars saga making it 'Nonilogy', instead, there was a need to bring in what? Episode 2.5? Well, for whatever the reason, lining the wallet, testing the CGI technology, employing about 50 zillion animators in Singapore, giving Anthony Daniels another chance to voice C-3PO, or who knows what, here it is: Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Which might have been more self-referentially entitled, "Star Wars: The Clone War in the Stars". Apparently, all of the big names except Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Daniels, and Christopher Lee were unavailable to voice their computerized characters, so don't look for Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor or Hayden Christensen to talk the talk. Instead there's Matt Lanter voicing Anakin Skywalker, Catherine Taber as Padmé Amidala, and James Arnold Taylor as venerable master Obi-Wan Kenobie—not that anyone would probably notice the difference.

…travel back to the beginning yet again, and fill in some blanks that were so essential to the Star Wars Saga…
Ironically, the characters are designed in the computer to look like their actors from the films rather than their stand-in voice actors. The point of bringing this up is that it adds to the disillusionment as to why this film was made. Why was it necessary? And in watching its painstakingly slow unfolding on the screen as one reaches desperately into the convoluted crevices of the cranium to reconcile this story with its bookends of Episodes II and III there's bound to be wonderment as to "yes, indeed, what was the purpose of all this?" Quite honestly, going out on a limb here, but a lot more people probably would have been more excited and interested in a remake of the Ewok's Christmas Special or, believe it or not, Episodes 7, 8, and 9. But, that's not what's been made. Instead, fans, let's travel back to the beginning yet again, and fill in some blanks that were so essential to the Star Wars Saga—um, that was sarcasm in case you missed the intonation of so essential.

The story continues, under the direction of Dave Filoni of "Avatar: The Last Airbender" the animated series fame, on a planet under attack. It's up to Obi-Wan and Anakin to save the planet. Fortunately, Master Yoda (voiced by Tom Kane) has sent along a padowan learner named Ahsoka Tano (voiced all too eagerly by Askhley Eckstein) to assist Anakin. Apparently, Yoda feels that this relationship of teacher and student will be good in helping Anakin move on in his training. It's odd because this Ahsoka Tano had no counterpart actor in the previous films, so she's a whole new character imagined in the minds of the animators. But, oh my gosh, there's a force field generator preventing their forces from using their heavy canons to defend the city. It will be up to Anakin and Ahsoka to knock it out so that Obi-Wan can lead the defensive troops to victory. Back in the world of government, the Republic is working to establish access to the Hutt Clan's shipping routes, which would be a lot easier were it not for the fact that Count Dooku (voiced by Christopher Lee) has kidnapped Jabba the Hutt's son, Rotta the Huttlett (voiced by David Acord) with an evil plot to frame the Jedi for his kidnapping and form his own alliance for trade. Part II, of the story, then becomes the race by Anakin and Ahsoka to free Rotta and return him to Jabba. Wow! Are you sitting there thinking, "Now I see why they made this film. I always wondered about the kidnapping of Jabba's son." If not, you're probably within your rights to save $7.75 - $10 and wait for episodes 7, 8, and 9 like the rest of the world. Actually, the story is pretty mechanical and more like playing the PS2 Lego® version of the Star Wars® games than watching a movie that makes sense with interesting characters and situations, but that's personal opinion.

Truthfully, the movie does look great. The special animation effects and transference of the living actors and technology to the animated realm went smoothly. The new voice actors do a stellar job making it possible not to miss as much Hayden, Natalie, and Ewan. The story, however, lacks much inspiration until about 60 minutes or so in, when now Senator Amidala attempts to establish a trust with Jabba's uncle Ziro (voiced to Cajun campy perfection by Corey Burton) and finds herself a bit outmatched against the hutt slug crime lord with glow-in-the-dark tattoos.

…could have gone straight to DVD and Download and not been missed but by die-hards, perhaps, who'll be sorely disappointed.
In this, it shares a bit in common with the other made post-Star Wars films but taking place pre-Star Wars—ti takes each a while before it starts to make sense and take off. Not so in Episodes IV, V, and VI which still rank way above any of these prequels and probably any 'postquels' as much as there is great anticipation that Mr. Lucas will finally, at last, break down and make these long-promised chapters. In the meantime, it's fair to ask for a moratorium on all things Star Wars for a while. Let's give it a rest, and maybe, just maybe, it will come back re-energized and ready to engage a new generation in the lore of the Skywalker family. Star Wars: The Clone Wars film happily could have gone straight to DVD and Download and not been missed but by die-hards, perhaps, who'll be sorely disappointed.

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Cast Members
Matt LanterAshley EcksteinJames Arnold Taylor
Dee Bradley BakerTom KaneNika Futterman
Ian AbercrombieCorey BurtonCatherine Taber
Kevin Michael RichardsonChristopher LeeSamuel L. Jackson
Dave Filoni
Henry GilroySteven MelchingScott Murphy

Review-lite Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) [max of 150 words]
Directed by Dave Filoni of "Avatar: The Last Airbender" fame, this inbetween chapter of the Star Wars Saga (sort of a II.5) is technically well done looking remarkably like the Lego® PS2 game more than the films. The first 60 minutes or so are nearly coma-inducing, and the story only picks up finally when Senator Padmé Amidala decides to pay Ziro the Hutt a visit to form a treaty with the Hutt clan. She finds herself no match for Jabba's uncle, and only C-3PO can come to the rescue. The money spent on this film should better have been directed toward the accomplishment of the long-promised episodes 7, 8, and 9 of the Star Wars Sage instead. There was practically no point in making this film. If there is a point in paying to see it, it's a small one and certainly not worth the average prices of a dinnertime movie ticket.

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